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NFL Annual Meeting 2024: "I Don't Know if I'll Ever Get over It …"

ORLANDO – The immediate past can't be changed. The idea now is not to repeat it.

Doug Pederson on Monday said the finish to the 2023 season remains very much with him, and the Jaguars' head coach said that may never change. He also said that's OK.

And it may even be a positive.

Pederson, entering his third season as the Jaguars' head coach, spoke to the media Monday morning at the 2024 NFL Annual Meeting at Ritz-Carlton Grand Lakes. Among the multiple topics he discussed: The Jaguars' slide to end the 2023 regular season, a finish that cost them a second consecutive AFC South title and a spot in the postseason.

"I don't think I'll ever get over it," he said.

The Jaguars, after an 8-3 start that gave them a two-game lead in the AFC South, lost five of their final six games to end the 2023 regular season. That allowed the Houston Texans to rally to the division title, with Houston clinching the South on the final day of the regular season when the Jaguars lost, 28-20, to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.

"For me, it's not so much that loss as much as the last six games," Pederson said. "We were sitting there at 8-3 and had everything going for us and right in front of us. I'm not going to let it cloud the vision, but at the same time it's going to be close in my mind as I move forward with the team this spring."

The Jaguars in 2022 had had a strikingly opposite finish, winning their last five games to rally past the Titans to win their first AFC South title since 2017.

"Now we're going back to the hunter again, right?" Pederson said. "It's just a matter of staying positive. I think it's just staying forward focused, forward thinking. You hate to live in the past, but I think you can remember the past, and I think it's fuel moving forward, kind of our motivation as we as we go."

The Jaguars this offseason have moved aggressively, hiring former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen to the same position in January to replace Mike Caldwell. They then signed multiple players as free agents: Wide receiver Gabe Davis (Buffalo Bills), center Mitch Morse (Bills), wide receiver/returner Devin Duvernay (Baltimore Ravens), cornerback Ronald Darby (Ravens), defensive tackle Arik Armstead (San Francisco 49ers), safety Darnell Savage (Green Bay Packers), linebacker Trevis Gipson (Titans) and kicker Joey Slye (Washington Commanders).

"You haven't played the game yet, so we don't really know," Pederson said, "but I feel like we've added some pieces to free agency that are going to help us. They give us depth."

They also traded for quarterback Mac Jones – a former first-round selection who started the past three seasons for the New England Patriots – to be a reserve to starter Trevor Lawrence. Pederson on Monday discussed those players needing to help reestablish a veteran, winning culture and – and to help the Jaguars move forward from a forgettable finish to this past season.

"Obviously as a coach, you're hopeful that that's the motivation," Pederson said. "The way we finished the last month and a half is not our standard and it's not what we talk about. It goes against everything we talk about. Credit Houston. They battled their tails off all year. They were much like us a year ago in '22.

"We still had opportunities all the way to the 18th week of the regular season. We were there at the end. We just have to figure out a way to kind of push through that envelope and be there."


  • Pederson on Monday discussed multiple Jaguars players, saying confidence within the team in running back Tank Bigsby remains high. A third-round selection from Auburn University in the 2023 NFL Draft, Bigsby rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 50 carries as a rookie. "We have to get Tank going, bottom line," Pederson said. "He's too good. That's why we drafted him. I think early on, he had some bad moments, like, 'Whoa, what is that?" type of plays. Then, he was just in and out of the lineup. But he is a young player that we're excited about. As we talked about last year, we can take some burden off [running back Travis Etienne Jr.] a little bit, keep him healthy for the remainder of the season."

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